Int’l community opposes internationalization of S.China Sea disputes

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016-5-10 20:33:01

A photo taken on April 5 shows the lighthouse on the Nansha Islands' Zhubi Reef in the South China Sea. Photo: Xinhua

At least eight countries have voiced their support for peaceful negotiation on the South China Sea issue between the parties directly concerned, opposing its internationalization.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said recently that any disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved through dialogue and attempts to internationalize the issue must be stopped.

"We believe that all countries involved in the disputes should follow the principles of non-use of force, and continue seeking mutually acceptable political and diplomatic solutions," Lavrov said in a joint interview with Chinese, Japanese and Mongolian media in Moscow.

He urged external players to stop interfering in the negotiations among the parties directly involved.

"I am convinced that they (attempts to internationalize the issue) are completely counterproductive," said Lavrov. "Only negotiations, which China and ASEAN are pursuing, can bring the desired result, namely, mutually acceptable agreements."

The core of the Beijing-Manila South China Sea dispute is a territorial one and an issue of maritime delimitation.

In his analysis published on the latest issue of Executive Intelligence Review, the publication's Washington Bureau Chief William Jones denounced the Western media for depicting China's claims to the Nansha and Xisha islands as a Chinese "power grab," arguing that for most of China's history, these claims were never contested.

He believed that countries in the region had a path to peacefully resolving the conflicts of their territorial claims, but Washington was actively sabotaging the efforts.

"China is clearly aware of the conflicts that have arisen with its neighbors over its attempt to make good on its claims," said Jones in the article. "It is also concerned to maintain amicable relations with its neighbors, and is therefore engaged in coming to agreements with the various claimants through a process of bilateral negotiations."

However, the Philippines has taken its dispute with China to arbitration. And with the blessing of the United States, the Philippines is hoping that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague will rule in its favor, he said.

He made an analogy to display what he claims is the hypocrisy of US rhetoric.

"Remember that the United States in 1872 sent General John Schofield to the then independent kingdom of Hawaii to investigate those islands for the purpose of eventually putting US military facilities on an advanced perimeter in the Pacific," said the article.

"But the Hawaiian Islands are 2,390 miles from the coast of California, while the Nansha Islands are 500 miles from the Chinese coast and the Xisha only 180 miles. And while the United States had no claim to the Hawaiian Islands (but would soon annex them in rather murky circumstances), China does have such a claim, a claim which was once universally recognized," Jones argued.

More support

In a communique issued after the 14th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of China, Russia and India last month, the three countries agreed that all related disputes should be addressed through negotiations and agreements between the parties concerned.

The ministers called for full respect of all provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), as well as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the Guidelines for the implementation of the DOC.

In the Pacific region, China reached consensus with Brunei, Cambodia and Laos on the South China Sea issue last month, opposing any attempt to unilaterally impose an agenda on other countries.

The four countries agreed that territorial and maritime disputes should be resolved through consultations and negotiations by parties directly concerned under Article 4 of the DOC.

Laos agreed that maintaining peace, stability, cooperation and development of the South China Sea area is in line with the common interests of all regional countries, calling on the parties directly concerned to resolve disputes peacefully through negotiation.

Fiji called on parties directly concerned to stay committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes through friendly consultations and negotiations in accordance with bilateral agreements and the DOC, adding that international judicial and arbitration bodies should fully respect the declaration on optional exceptions made by countries under Article 298 of the UNCLOS.

In Africa, Sudan and Gambia have expressed their support for China's position. Sudan has urged all the conflicting parties in the South China Sea issue to resort to peaceful settlement, and highlighted the Article 298 of UNCLOS.

Gambia has declared its support for the Chinese government's position on the ongoing dispute, saying that the Philippines' arbitration request was unilateral and at variance with the letter and spirit of the bilateral instruments and the DOC that call for settlement of their disputes through negotiations.

Newspaper headline: One-on-one on the sea

Posted in: Diplomacy

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